Congratulations to our Washington store's fantastic colleague Maureen Wallwork who's received the British Empire Medal for outstanding service to her community.

Maureen, who's the store's community champion, was given the award in the Queen's birthday honours list.

After receiving her medal she was congratulated at the store by colleagues and some of the people who she helps in her role and in her spare time.

Every week Maureen joins volunteers at a local food bank's community kitchen and helps serve meals to the needy and vulnerable.

She also regularly helps out with her local Age UK group, serving refreshments to elderly guests and acting as compere to host entertainment for them. She's a familiar and friendly face volunteering with local schools, and is also well-known in the area for her fundraising with the Royal British Legion and Friends of Sulgrave Manor, as well as many other good causes.

The British Empire Medal is awarded for meritorious civil or military service, and it was presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear, Susan Whitfield OBE, in the Mayor's Parlour at Sunderland Civic Centre.

The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris MacKnight, also attended the event. She said: "Maureen is a great example for us all, and a credit to the people of her local community and the city of Sunderland.

"She's a great ambassador for volunteers and the voluntary sector. Without people like Maureen life would not be the same for so many people who need our help and support."

Hazel Young, community worker for Age UK Washington, said: "Maureen is a wholehearted woman who gives us her time and energy to the nth degree. She's a diamond, a real champion of the community – and a kinder woman you couldn't wish to meet.

"She always ensures community causes are very prominent in the store and is prepared to do anything to help us. I've known her for six years and in that time we couldn't have asked for better support from her and the store."

The store's deputy manager Paul Brayson said: "All of the colleagues are really proud of her. She does a fantastic job in her role as community champion and does an awful lot of community work in her spare time too. She helps such a wide range of people - the young, the elderly, and the needy in our community.

"She's really passionate about her role. It's not just a job – it's more of a vocation for her, and she really drives the store's presence in the local community."

Maureen, who's 66, is married to John and has four children and four grandchildren. She said: "It was an absolutely fabulous moment receiving the award, the whole event was a blur really!

"I'm proud to receive it on behalf of myself, my family, my friends and the community and I was delighted some of the charities were able to join me when I received it.

"My role is all about going out into the community and showing people that you care. I love my job and I love everybody I work with.

"My colleagues in the store are so supportive of me - without that support I wouldn't be able to do half of what I do.

"I'd also like to say a very big thank you to my family, especially my husband John."

The final two photographs appear courtesy of Kevin Brady.